Luke Benward never met a challenge; he didn't meet head-on acting all his life since his debut in the 2002 war drama We Were Soldiers. Now the former child star returned to familiar roots as a soldier who shares his first name in the thriller Wildcat for Saban Films. Luke White finds himself captive at the hands of terrorists with journalist Kadija Young, played by Georgina Campbell. I spoke with Benwald about what drew him to the film, working with Campbell and director/writer Jonathan Stokes, and the intense training he went through.
"[Wildcat] is such a beautiful layered story, I think off the bat, the most attractive thing," Benward said. "I got done with the script, and even on the page, it was something that really left me stressed, sad, and also happy. It was one that just made me feel. I was extremely passionate about what was on the page." He compliments Campbell on being able to provide as much intensity to her role as need. "It was great. She's awesome, and we both came to play. We were able to equally get 110 percent on the screen. We trained hard with our diets and went through a long, hard, and arduous process."
On Filming Wildcat and Physical Training
Benward credits Stokes on his efficiency on set. "I really enjoyed working with Jonathan," he said. "He was a phenomenal collaborator, which is obviously very important that he was able to hear, critique, and talk in-depth about characters and all that kind of stuff while being able to put a bigger filter into it. I think that was a recipe for making a great film." The actor was meticulous in training himself physically and psychologically in the role. "I did a lot of research into the introspective way," he explained. "I wanted to connect with this character as a person. I think that's one of the most amazing qualities of this humanization and bringing it down to the realness of the situation in circumstances that are so behind the scenes, out of this world, out of this realm. They are so close to doing stuff that was amazing. That's what I want to bring to the character. One thing I did enjoy was that we talked to a few doctors about my boldness and reactions and what that would look like as a progression until the ultimate condition. So I got a lot of things in there that I think that wound up affecting me both physically and mentally because there were a lot of mental alterations that happen with the confession that I didn't realize."
Wildcat, which also stars Ibrahim Renno, Mido Hamada, Ali Omoli, and Maz Siam, comes to theatres on April 23 and available on digital and on-demand on April 27.
An ambitious reporter (Georgina Campbell) stationed in the Middle East is taken captive after a militant group ambushes her convoy. Convinced that the young woman is hiding her true identity, they'll stop at nothing to extract information crucial to the success of their upcoming terrorist attack. With time running out, she must find a way to survive and turn the tables on her assailants.